Tag Archives: infrastructure

Too bad there wasn’t a good guy with a gun around to keep this bad thing from happening

bridge

Once we get all the school teachers armed and trained, we’ll surely find some money to fix stuff like this. But first things first.

Duane gets it exactly right

We built this and it built the Southwest

Duane Graham has a very insightful post on the Obama Speech over at The Erstwhile Conservative (for those of you who don’t know him, he’s in Joplin and wrote very movingly of the devastation that city suffered from the tornadoes a few months back.)

He liked this part of Obama’s speech (and I agree – it had real power):

OBAMA: We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union.  Founder of the Republican Party.  But in the middle of a civil war, he was also a leader who looked to the future — a Republican President who mobilized government to build the Transcontinental Railroad — (applause) — launch the National Academy of Sciences, set up the first land grant colleges.  (Applause.)  And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.

Ask yourselves — where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways, not to build our bridges, our dams, our airports?  What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges?  Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the opportunity to go to school because of the G.I. Bill.  Where would we be if they hadn’t had that chance?

How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip?  What kind of country would this be if this chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do?  (Applause.)  How many Americans would have suffered as a result?

In his own voice, Duane adds:

Recently I heard a story about the eventual deterioration of important National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites, which provide stunningly accurate forecasts of major weather events.  In its Tea Party-inspired wisdom, Congress has more than cut in half the funding for the maintenance and upgrading of those types of satellites.

What a small country we are becoming.  We struggle to pay for weather satellites, for God’s sake.

A post and discussion downstream touches on the same subject. Here.

The long U.S. slide to the bottom

I see the GOP is determined to cut the budget of the F.D.A., even as Europe is caught in the grip of an E-coli scare.

I think this brief letter in today’s New York Times says it all.

A Question for the Right

To the Editor:

Re “High-Speed Rail Poised to Alter China” (Business Day, June 23):

As we persist in allowing other countries to outdo us in the development of high-speed rail, the quality of health care, the implementation of cleaner energy solutions, and the rigor of math and science programs in schools, does the “no new taxes under any circumstances or for any reason” right wing have a plan in place to bring us back up from the bottom 20 years from now?

 

Henry Ford made cars but he didn’t build any roads.

We suffer legions of fellow citizens who hate government and are certain that all innovation and growth comes from the almighty private sector, driven by individualists and innovators.

I copy/pasted this some months back and failed to copy the link. It speaks to this point better than anything I’ve ever read. And I don’t know who said it. So my apologies the author and my thanks for the fine words.

Decades of relentless Republican hate-mongering against the government has done its job.

Never mind that it was government that pulled off the greatest feat of social engineering in history. In 1900, only 4% of Americans graduated from high school. By 2000, more than 80% did. It was this mass educated public that made possible the most technically sophisticated economy in the history of the world.

It was government that won both World War I and World War II, leaving the U.S. economy astride the world like a colossus, able to harvest the fruits for decades. It was the government GI Bill program that educated a generation of young people to ultimately defeat the Soviet Union.

It was the government that wired every house in the country for electricity during the Great Depression, setting up the largest household consumer-goods market in the world in the 1950s: home appliances. And it was government guarantees for home loans that set off the greatest building boom in the history of the world: suburbia.

It was government that paved more than 3 million miles of road between 1930 and 1960, making possible the massive economic boom associated with automobiles, mass mobility, and more. It was government research that invented the graphical user interface (I remember when we called it ‘gooey’) and the Internet.

Of course, none of that matters.

Reprise: Infrastructure? We don’t need no stinkin’ infrastructure.

Christie: Take yer tunnel and _____ it!

Without comment (from Crooks & Liars via Memeorandum)

On Tuesday, the residents of New Jersey saw the future – in China. On the same day that Governor Chris Christie killed funding for the badly needed second Hudson River rail tunnel, Beijing rolled out its fastest bullet train yet. As it turns out, Christie’s budget ax is just the latest symptom of a growing epidemic. Across the country, the United States is walking away from its crumbling infrastructure even as America’s competitors commit the resources to win in the 21st century global economy.

To be sure, China is making those investments. America’s largest creditor not only dominates the U.S. in launching cleaner coal-fired power plants, but by January leapfrogged the West to become the world’s largest producer of wind turbines and solar panels. Just last week, an Australian study found that the China, the globe’s biggest polluter, is now the clear leader in clean energy efforts.

You know the line: “Move along, nothing to see here”

While America-the-people wallows in mid-term election grizzlies and gossip, America-the-country is dissolving around us. I heard the top dog of Tea Party Express on CSpan this morning say that the movement (as usual) is about stopping any new taxes and reducing the deficit. It’s nonsense: contradictory goals – a waste of his breath and the airtime. But sadly people believe it’s possible.

It’s not. And 30 years of deregulation and insufficient taxation – and a growing belief that in fact raising taxes is to practically trample on the Constitution and side with the terrorists – have brought us to a sorry state of affairs. While we subsidize everything that ends up costing us in the long run – sugar, gasoline, corn syrup, highways etc., our infrastructure and our educational credentials (see next post) are falling apart.

It’s as though we’re trying to devolve.

Bob Herbert today (my new favorite columnist) talks about water systems.

” . . the truth is that the nation’s water systems are in sorry shape — deteriorating even as the population grows and demand increases. Aging and corroded pipes are bursting somewhere every couple of minutes. Dilapidated sewer systems are contaminating waterways and drinking water. Many local systems are so old and inadequate — in some cases, so utterly rotten — that they are overwhelmed by heavy rain. “

“If this were a first-class society we would rebuild our water systems to the point where they would be the envy of the world, and that would bolster the economy in the bargain. But that would take maturity and vision and effort and sacrifice, all of which are in dismayingly short supply right now.”

“Improving water systems — and infrastructure generally, if properly done — would go a long way toward improving the nation’s dismal economic outlook . . . . every dollar invested in water and sewer improvements has the potential to increase the long-term gross domestic product by more than six dollars. Hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created . . .

“The nation’s network of water systems was right at the bottom of the latest infrastructure grades handed out by the American Society of Civil Engineers, receiving a D-minus. Jeffrey Griffiths, a member of the federal government’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council, told The Times: “We’re relying on water systems built by our great-grandparents, and no one wants to pay for the decades we’ve spent ignoring them. There’s a lot of evidence that people are getting sick. But because everything is out of sight, no one really understands how bad things have become.”

But the gays and the terrorists are out to get us. So there’s really no time for this stuff.

This is a massive failure of government at every level, a failure of both parties. Ultimately however, it’s our own failure.

You get what you ask for. (Of course we’ve managed to convince people to pay for their water in bottles, so maybe it’s okay!)

Herbert is even better than usual

The New York Times this week has now produced two superb columns about infrastructure. The cancellation (maybe not) of the NY/NJ tunnel by Gov. Christie has ignited some interest in an overdue and necessary national conversation. At least I hope it has. Our neglect of infrastructure over the past 30 years is a sin against our future.

Today Bob Herbert nails it (following on the heels of Krugman yesterday and remarkably tracking Krugman’s own points. I posted on Krugman’s column yesterday).

By the way, have I mentioned that I think Herbert’s just getting better and better? He is.

His column is just full of plain language and simple realities. It’s so good, I’m  pasting most of it here to increase the chance you’ll read it.

We can go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and threaten to blow Iran off the face of the planet. We can conduct a nonstop campaign of drone and helicopter attacks in Pakistan and run a network of secret prisons around the world. We are the mightiest nation mankind has ever seen.

We did this with slide rules and calculators

But we can’t seem to build a railroad tunnel to carry commuters between New Jersey and New York.

The railroad tunnel was the kind of infrastructure project that used to get done in the United States almost as a matter of routine. It was a big and expensive project, but the payoff would have been huge. It would have reduced congestion and pollution in the New York-New Jersey corridor. It would have generated economic activity and put thousands of people to work. It would have enabled twice as many passengers to ride the trains on that heavily traveled route between the two states.

The project had been in the works for 20 years, and ground had already been broken . . .  This is a railroad tunnel we’re talking about. We’re not trying to go to the Moon. This is not the Manhattan Project. It’s a railroad tunnel that’s needed to take people back and forth to work and to ease the pressure on the existing tunnel, a wilting two-track facility that’s about 100 years old. What is the matter with us?

The railroad tunnel project, all set and ready to go, would have provided jobs for 6,000 construction workers, not to mention all the residual employment that accompanies such projects . . .

There have been many times when the U.S. has stunned the world with the breadth and greatness of its achievements — the Marshall Plan, the G.I. Bill, the world’s highest standard of living, the world’s finest higher education system, the space program, and on and on.

Somewhere, somehow, things went haywire. The nation that built the Erie Canal and Hoover Dam and the transcontinental railroad can’t even build a tunnel beneath the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York.

Let the grandkids worry about the blanking infrastructure

After all, who needs infrastructure? A single hundred year old tunnel should be good enough to service 4 or 5 million people. Whiners, always want more. But Gov. Christie set them straight. No new tunnel for New Jersey. Can’t afford it he said.

” [now] by any rational calculation, would be an especially good time to improve the nation’s infrastructure. We have the need: our roads, our rail lines, our water and sewer systems are antiquated and increasingly inadequate. We have the resources: a million-and-a-half construction workers are sitting idle, and putting them to work would help the economy as a whole recover from its slump. And the price is right: with interest rates on federal debt at near-record lows, there has never been a better time to borrow for long-term investment.

But American politics these days is anything but rational . . .

It was a destructive and incredibly foolish decision on multiple levels. But it shouldn’t have been all that surprising. We are no longer the nation that used to amaze the world with its visionary projects. We have become, instead, a nation whose politicians seem to compete over who can show the least vision, the least concern about the future and the greatest willingness to pander to short-term, narrow-minded selfishness.”

That’s what Paul Krugman says.

Damn them Bushies

New York has been ordered to replace all its street signs!! By bureaucrats! And it’s going to cost $27 million tax payer dollars! It’s an outrage for sure, so listen for this to talk radio today for this latest infringement on our liberties. Betcha FOX News picks it up tonight.

The order came down in 2003. Cities were given till 2018 to get the job done and that sounds like 15 years. Here’s the ‘rest of the story‘ (buried of course at the very end of the NY Daily News article). . .

Although the city did not begin replacing the signs until earlier this year, [city Transportation Commissioner Janet] Sadik-Khan said they will have no trouble meeting the deadline, as some 8,000 signs a year are replaced annually simply due to wear and tear.

USA! USA! The encore

From Harper’s Index, April 2010:

Percentage change since 2008 in the average speed of an Internet connection worldwide:  +14

Percentage change in the United States:  -2.4